19:00 PM

Community Impact: ACTION Inc.

Have you ever visited a buffet or looked into a dessert case and wondered what happened to the remaining food at the end of the night? Unfortunately, in the USA, 30 to 40 percent of the food supply is wasted, according to research from World Resources Institute.

ACTION, Inc. found a way to put that perishable food onto the plates of hungry people through their Full Plate program, which works with community partners to pick up excess perishables from their commercial kitchens and quickly deliver these items to sites that prepare meals and serve the homeless and low-income individuals.

“Full Plate deliveries allow our partner agencies to reduce the amount of money that would normally be necessary for food purchase and preparation, and then redirect these savings to support the human services that are instrumental to their successful operations and missions,” said Lisa Gautreaux, ACTION, Inc. president and CEO.

The Full Plate program is the only food rescue and redistribution program in Northeast Georgia and has been reducing the food budgets of the organizations committed to feeding the hungry. In 2017, the Full Plate program plans to serve 4,475 individuals in Athens-Clarke, Jackson and Barrow counties.

Equally as important as the Full Plate program, ACTION, Inc. operates several programs which focus on having an actual impact on poverty through education and educationbased training. Under the umbrella of Opportunities Now, ACTION expanded on the success seen through their years of operating its High School Youth program. In addition to the High School Youth program, the Agency has four additional programs which focus on varying populations, including individuals who have dropped out of high school, foster care youth who are transitioning out of the system, individuals who have been incarcerated or are on probation, and individuals regardless of any identifying qualifier. Each of these programs are different in many ways, but all focus on personalized career coaching, mentoring, educational support, financial assistance and continued follow-up to allow students to stay in and be successful in all levels of education.

“We are trying a different approach to impact and break the cycle of poverty by focusing our efforts on those who are motivated to become self-sustaining,” Gautreaux said. “We’re working side-by-side with individuals who are committed to making strategic and long-term life changes. There are very real barriers that make education and training unachievable, and a vital part of our relationship is to help remove or minimize the barriers preventing individuals from achieving their full potential. We are only able to do this by partnering with other service agencies, businesses and schools/colleges to participate in the success of changing lives. This is not a quick fix.”

Since 2015, 92 percent of students served through the High School Youth program graduate from high school. 87 percent of students continue to college and technical school.

The Jackson EMC Foundation awarded $15,000 to support these ACTION Inc. programs at its January board meeting.